The Anonymous Widower

Elizabeth Line: Commuters Say Service ‘Not What Was Promised’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the sub-heading to the article by Tom Edwards.

All of the huge modernist stations are now open and it is architecturally impressive, but what has service on the Elizabeth line been like since it opened in the summer?

These three paragraphs talk about how passengers have reported problems to Tom.

Many say it has been hit and miss, and commuters in West Ealing have been in touch with me to highlight some of the problems.

They recorded some of their journeys for BBC London, and it doesn’t look pleasant.

Many are really fed up with the delays and cancellations and above all the overcrowding.

As with many new railways, like the London Overground, the Borders Railway and the Dartmoor Line, the passenger numbers on the Elizabeth Line have exceeded projections.

The main reasons are probably.

  • Convenience of the new route and its stations.
  • Curiosity about the new infrastructure.
  • The improved access to the trains with heavy cases.

But in the case of the Elizabeth Line two other factors also apply.

Are Passengers Changing From the Piccadilly to the Elizabeth Line?

Consider.

  • The Piccadilly Line trains are smaller than the Elizabeth Line trains.
  • The Piccadilly Line trains are not air-conditioned.
  • Heathrow Central to Holborn is 62 minutes on the Piccadilly Line and several minutes quicker using the Elizabeth and Central Lines with a change at Bond Street or Tottenham Court Road.

Many passengers, who previously used the Piccadilly Line may swap to the Elizabeth Line for a quicker journey on a more comfortable and spacious train.

The new Piccadilly Line trains will have more space, walk-through carriages and air conditioning, so may well tempt passengers back.

Bond Street And All Stations To the East On the Elizabeth Line Are Only Five Minutes Slower By Elizabeth Line Direct

Consider.

  • Heathrow Central and Bond Street is 38 minutes using Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line with a change at Paddington.
  • Using the Elizabeth Line all the way takes 43 minutes.
  • The figures for Liverpool Street are 46 and 51 minutes respectively.
  • The figures for Canary Wharf are 53 and 58 minutes respectively.

Note.

  1. The direct route avoids the change at Paddington.
  2. The change at Paddington between Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line is not onerous.
  3. Routes using Heathrow Express are fifteen pounds more expensive.
  4. If you’re desperate for a coffee, you can pick one up, when you change at Paddington using Heathrow express.

I believe a regular traveller to Heathrow, who has easy access to an Elizabeth Line station and in the past has used Heathrow Express will give the Elizabeth Line a chance.

The Jewel In The East Is On The Elizabeth Line

In 2014, I wrote Is Whitechapel Station Going To Be A Jewel In The East?.

Consider.

  • The Elizabeth Line will go through the station with a frequency of up to 24 trains per hour (tph).
  • The two Eastern branches of the Elizabeth Line split to the East of Whitechapel station.
  • There will be four tph between Heathrow and Whitechapel.
  • The East London Line of the London Overground goes through the station with a frequency of 16 tph, that will be raised to at least 20 tph in a few years.
  • The District Line goes through the station with a frequency of upwards of 12 tph.
  • The Hammersmith and City Line goes through the station with a frequency of 6 tph.
  • The station has large numbers of lifts and escalators.

Passengers from all over the Eastern half of London will change at Whitechapel on their journey to and from Heathrow.

Farrington station Connects Thameslink And The Elizabeth Line

Consider.

  • The Elizabeth Line will go through Farringdon station with a frequency of up to 24 tph.
  • The Circle, Hammersmith and City and the Metropolitan Lines will go through the station with a combined frequency of up to 24 tph.
  • Thameslink will go through the station with a frequency of up to 14 tph.

Passengers from Thameslink’s catchment area will change at Farringdon on their journey to and from Heathrow.

Overcrowding On The Elizabeth Line

It is not a surprise to me, that the Western end of the Elizabeth Line is overcrowded.

I noticed it in November 3022, when I wrote So Many Cases On A Train!.

What Can Be Done To Ease The Overcrowding?

These are possible ways to ease the overcrowding.

Increase The Number Of Trains To Heathrow

I would feel the obvious way to increase the number of trains to Heathrow, would be to run direct trains between Shenfield and Heathrow.

Currently, there are these trains.

  • 4 tph – Heathrow Express – Paddington and Terminal 5
  • 2 tph – Elizabeth Line – Abbey Wood and Terminal 4
  • 2 tph – Elizabeth Line – Abbey Wood and Terminal 5

But is there the capacity to add extra trains between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow through the tunnel?

Run A Service Between Shenfield And Hayes & Harlington

This would add capacity in West London, where it is needed, but wouldn’t add any extra trains through the tunnel to Heathrow.

By timing this service in combination with the Elizabeth Line services to Heathrow, I suspect a very efficient service between Heathrow and both Eastern terminals could be devised.

  • As four tph run between Abbey Wood and Heathrow, four tph would be run between Shenfield and Hayes & Harlington.
  • Going towards Heathrow, the train from Shenfield to Hayes & Harlington would be a few minutes in front of the train from Abbey Wood to Heathrow. Passengers going from Shenfield to Heathrow would be instructed to change at any station between Whitechapel  and Southall, by waiting a few minutes for the following train.
  • Coming from Heathrow, passengers wanting to go to Shenfield would walk across the platform at Hayes & Harlington to catch the waiting train to Shenfield. The Shenfield train would follow a few minutes behind the Abbey Wood train.

Note.

  1. The two train services would run as a pair, a few minutes apart.
  2. No new infrastructure would be required.

Currently, there are eight tph between Whitechapel and Hayes & Harlington.

Four tph between Shenfield and Hayes & Harlington would increase the following.

  • The capacity between Whitechapel and Hayes & Harlington by fifty percent.
  • The train frequency in the central tunnel to twenty tph or a train every three minutes.
  • The frequency between Paddington and Shenfield to twelve tph.

There would still be four tph available for more services.

 

 

 

 

 

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

So Many Cases On A Train!

This afternoon about three, I went to West Ealing station to see what it was like to transfer between the Elizabeth Line Central Tunnel and the Western Branch at Paddington.

Coming back, I took an Elizabeth Line service that had started from Heathrow Airport and it was one of the busiest Lizzies, I’d ever ridden!

To get on the train at West Ealing station, I got in to probably coach 4 of 9, as that was in the dry and the back end of the train I needed for Moorgate station was certainly in the wet.

I then had to walk half the length of the train to get to the back of the train.

It was not easy, as the train was full of scores of passengers with large wheelie cases.

This got me thinking.

Are Passengers Transferring To The Lizzie Line?

And especially those with large cases. that are the sort you could use for bringing in a pair of folded-up contortionists.

  • These cases don’t fit well on the Piccadilly Line, which has only a few step-free stations.
  • From what I’ve seen cases are easily wheeled to Elizabeth Line platforms at Heathrow.
  • Many of these cases won’t fit in the average family car.
  • All parking is expensive at Heathrow, whether it is short, medium or long.
  • Valet parking at Heathrow has been devalued by all the scam artists.
  • Taxis are the province of those that own oil wells, hedge funds or belong to the highest wunch of bankers.
  • Pick-up and drop-off is now very expensive.
  • There were a good proportion of couples, who were both dragging or pushing a massive case.
  • The Elizabeth Line is cheaper than the Heathrow Express.
  • The Elizabeth Line like the Piccadilly Line allows the use of a bank card as a ticket.
  • Only the Elizabeth and Piccadilly Lines take you direct to dozens of stations with only same-platform interchanges.
  • The Elizabeth Line has step-free interchanges with the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Hammersmith and City, Jubilee, and Metropolitan Lines, the Docklands Light Railway and the London Overground.
  • Whitechapel has been turned into a major transport hub for the Easternmost part of London.

There seems to be quite a few reasons why a traveller going to or from Heathrow might at least try the Elizabeth Line.

And travellers seemed to be doing it in droves today!

Were Upmarket Passengers Using The Lizzie Line?

Take the couple next to me on the train from West Ealing.

  • Around sixty.
  • Very well-dressed.
  • Possibly Mediterranean or South American.
  • Matching medium-size wheelie-cases.
  • She was wearing expensive glasses.

A couple of years ago, they would have probably used the Heathrow Express.

They certainly weren’t the only passengers, who looked like archetypal Heathrow Express passengers.

Will The Lizzie Line Take Passengers From The Piccadilly Line?

As the cost will be the same, I suspect the answer will be yes.

Although, there will be groups of travellers, who will probably remain loyal to the Piccadilly Line.

  • If you were going to or from the step-free Cockfosters or Oakwood, with a heavy case, all the way on the Piccadilly Line could be a simple sensible option. I used to live near Oakwood station and remember several long trips on the Piccadilly Line, but not too Heathrow.
  • The step-free Kings Cross St. Pancras, Green Park, Knightsbridge and Earls Court may well have reasons to keep their regular passengers.
  • Those only travelling a few stops to or from Heathrow will probably stay with the Piccadilly Line for convenience.
  • Transport for London have been adding step-free access to the Heathrow Branch and this will surely promote use.

The Piccadilly Line is also getting new trains in a few years.

In Extending The Elizabeth Line – Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway, I talked about a proposal to turnback some Piccadilly Line trains at Ealing Broadway station.

I think it is a good idea, as it could make it simpler for Piccadilly Line passengers to access Heathrow and reduce congestion on the Piccadilly Line.

Will The Lizzie Line Take Passengers From The Heathrow Express?

This is an extract from Extending The Elizabeth Line – Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway

It will be difficult to predict what will happen to Heathrow Express, but I suspect several groups of passengers will desert it.

  • Passengers wanting to go anywhere East of Paddington without changing trains.
  • Passengers wanting any Elizabeth Line station.
  • Passengers, who don’t like the prices of Heathrow Express.
  • Passengers using Oyster or contactless cards.
  • Passengers who want to ride on London’s spectacular new Elizabeth Line.

After Old Oak Common station is opened for High Speed Two, the numbers could further decrease.

Will Heathrow Express survive?

Will The Lizzie Line Attract Passengers Who Usually Drive?

Large swathes of the country already have single-change step-free access to the Elizabeth Line.

  • All services out of Liverpool Street and/or Stratford.
  • All services out of Moorgate.
  • All Thameslink services through Farringdon.
  • All services out of Paddington.
  • All services through Abbey Wood.
  • When Crossrail to Ebbsfleet (C2E) opens, this will add all services through Gravesend and Ebbsfleet.
  • When High Speed Two opens, this will add all services through Old Oak Common.
  • When the Western Rail Approach To Heathrow is completed, this will add all services through Reading.

If you can get a train direct to the Elizabeth Line network and then a train direct to your terminal, would you seriously want all the hassle of parking after a two hour drive?

I can see parking at Heathrow suffering a severe lack of demand.

Conclusion

Lizzie will start a revolution in travel to and from Heathrow.

November 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway

Transport for London have proposed a reorganisation of the Piccadilly and District Lines in the Ealing area.

I first wrote about this in Is There Going To Be More Change At Ealing Broadway Station?, but now the Elizabeth Line is on the verge of being connected across London, I feel that this post needs to be replaced.

A Possible Proposal

Ealing Broadway station is being upgraded for Crossrail.

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a Capital Connection supplement, which discusses London’s railways.

On Page 7 in a section about the sub-surface lines, this is said.

One possibility being discussed is that the Piccadilly should take over the District’s Ealing Broadway service. This would free up space on the South side of the inner-London circle for more City trains off the Wimbledon branch, one of the sub-surface network’s most-crowded routes.

On Page 15 in a section about the Mayor’s plans, this is said.

It is suggested Piccadilly Line services run to Ealing Broadway instead of the District Line, enabling increased frequencies on the latter’s Richmond and Wimbledon branches.

As the plan is mentioned twice, certainly the proposal is being thought about.

The Lines At Ealing Broadway Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Ealing Broadway station.

Note how the Piccadilly and District Lines share tracks from Ealing Common station, which then split with District Line trains going to Ealing Broadway station and Piccadilly Line trains going to Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations.

If the change happened and Ealing Broadway station was only served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines of the Underground, then there might be opportunities to improve the efficiency of the Underground side of the station.

Capacities And Lengths Of London Underground Trains Serving Ealing Broadway Station

I’ll express these as a table.

  • Central Line – 1992 Stock – 930 passengers – 130 metres – 7.15 pass/m.
  • District Line – S7 Stock – 1209 passengers – 117.45 metres – 10.29 pass/m.
  • Piccadilly Line – 1973 Stock – 684 passengers – 106.8 metres – 6.40 pass/m.
  • New Tube for London – 1076 passengers – 113.7 metres – 9.46 pass/m.

Note.

  1. The New Tube for London is the shortest train, with the second highest capacity and the highest passenger density.
  2. The New Tube for London will be replacing the Piccadilly Line trains first.
  3. The New Tube for London will be replacing the Central Line trains second.

It looks like there will be no platform-length problems running the New Tube for London to Ealing Broadway station.

The District Line Platforms At Ealing Broadway Station

These pictures show the District Line at Ealing Broadway station.

Note.

  1. There are three platforms for terminating District Line trains, which are numbered 7 to 9.
  2. The service frequency is six trains per hour (tph).
  3. The bridge to the far platform 9, is not step-free.
  4. It appears to be possible to walk between platforms 8 and 9 behind the buffer stops, but it wasn’t signed.
  5. As a comparison the Central Line runs 9 tph to East London from two platforms, that are numbered 5 and 6.
  6. There was also a 3 tph Night Tube service before the pandemic, which appears to be running again.
  7. Platforms 8 and 9 seem to be covered by a building of very little architectural merit.

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the detailed platform layout.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered from 1 to 9 from the South.
  2. Underground tracks are shown in blue.
  3. Elizabeth Line tracks are shown in orange.
  4. Great Western ~Main Line tracks are shown in red.

I believe that the three District Line platforms could be upgraded into an excellent terminus for another branch of the Piccadilly Line.

Consider.

  • Two platforms would probably be enough, but a third would be useful for service recovery.
  • As the Piccadilly and Central Line trains are the same size, could Platform 7 be a platform be available to both Underground services when needed?
  • The New Tubes for London are a few metres shorter than the current District Line trains, so would this help in creating a step-free level walkway between Platforms 8 and 9, behind the buffer stops?
  • Platforms 8 and 9 may need to be lengthened.
  • Is there any scope for any appropriate oversite development?

I certainly believe that a much better replacement could be created.

Changing Between The Underground Lines And The Elizabeth Line At Ealing Broadway Station

Ealing Broadway station is now step-free and changes between the Eastbound Elizabeth Line and the Underground are a walk on the level.

Only when changing to or from the Westbound Elizabeth Line do you need to use stairs and/or a lift.

Elizabeth Line Effects On Access To Heathrow

The Elizabeth Line will change the way a lot of passengers go to and from Heathrow Airport.

Elizabeth Line To Heathrow

At present, the service will be.

  • 4 trains per hour (tph) between Paddington and Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 4 or Heathrow Terminal 5 via Ealing Broadway.

After November 6th, 2022, the service will be.

  • 4 tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 2 tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Central and Heathrow Terminal 5

In addition these services will serve all station including Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street, Bond Street, Paddington and Ealing Broadway.

Effect On Heathrow Express

It will be difficult to predict what will happen to Heathrow Express, but I suspect several groups of passengers will desert it.

  • Passengers wanting to go anywhere East of Paddington without changing trains.
  • Passengers wanting any Elizabeth Line station.
  • Passengers, who don’t like the prices of Heathrow Express.
  • Passengers using Oyster or contactless cards.
  • Passengers who want to ride on London’s spectacular new Elizabeth Line.
  • After Old Oak Common station is opened for High Speed Two, the numbers could further decrease.

Will Heathrow Express survive?

Effect On Piccadilly Line

The current Piccadilly Line route to the Airport will not be closed, as for many it will still be a convenient route to the Airport

  • Passengers who live on the Piccadilly Line and don’t want to change trains. Think Southgate, Knightsbridge, Hammersmith and Osterley!
  • Passengers to the West of Acton Town station.
  • Passengers, workers and others needing to go to Hatton Cross station.

If the Elizabeth Line connected with the Piccadilly Line at say Holborn, it would be all so different.

Effect On District Line

When Crossrail opens, the District Line will become a loop from Crossrail, between  Ealing Broadway and Whitechapel running along the North Bank of the Thames via Earls Court, Victoria, Charing Cross and Monument.

The step-free interchange at Ealing Broadway could become busy with passengers travelling  to and from the Airport.

Effect On Piccadilly Line Overcrowding

Heathrow trains on the Piccadilly Line can get very overcrowded with so many passengers with heavy cases.

It must sometimes be very difficult to get on a Piccadilly Line train between Heathrow and South Kensington stations.

The Elizabeth Line should take the pressure from these trains, by allowing passengers to use the District Line with a change at Ealing Broadway.

The New Tube for London will also help to reduce the overcrowding.

Effect On My Personal Route

My personal route to the airport is to take a 141 bus to Manor House station and then get the Piccadilly Line. It takes 94 minutes.

After the Elizabeth Line fully opens, if I take the East London Line from Dalston Junction to Whitechapel and then used Crossrail, I’d take 57 minutes.

Conclusion

The Elizabeth Line will affect the way many get to and from Heathrow Airport.

But there are large areas of London, who still will need to change trains twice to get to the airport. But for many, one of those changes will be a step-free one at Ealing Broadway, Paddington or Whitechapel stations.

Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway Effects

Adding Ealing Broadway station as a fourth Western terminus to the Piccadilly Line will have effects, but not as important as the opening of the Elizabeth Line.

Some Improved Journey Times To Heathrow

Some Piccadilly Line stations will see improved journey times to Heathrow.

Hammersmith to Heathrow currently takes 37 minutes by the Piccadilly Line.

Taking a Piccadilly Line train to Ealing Broadway and then using the Elizabeth Line could save a dozen minutes.

The District Line Connection To The Elizabeth Line At Ealing Broadway Is Lost

Passengers along the District Line from Monument to Hammersmith will lose their direct access to the Elizabeth Line at Ealing Broadway.

Cross-platform access to the Piccadilly Line at Hammersmith and other stations will probably be provided or improved, but it will be a second change.

Note that until the Piccadilly Line gets upgraded and new trains arrive around 2023, the District Line with new trains and the soon to be installed new signalling may well be a better passenger experience.

More Trains To Richmond

This will certainly be possible, if some Ealing Broadway trains are diverted to Richmond.

But the Elizabeth Line has another delight in its cupboard for Richmond.

Old Oak Common station is scheduled to open in 2026 and will offer an interchange between the Elizabeth Line and the North London Line.

Richmond will certainly be getting a better train service to Central and East London.

More Trains To Wimbledon

This will certainly be possible, if some Ealing Broadway trains are diverted to Wimbledon.

The Ealing Common Problem

At Ealing Common station, the Piccadilly and District Line share the same tracks and platforms.

Some commentators have suggested that the new trains on the Piccadilly Line will be designed to work with platform-edge doors for improved safety and dwell times.

So if platform-edge doors were to be fitted to all stations on the Piccadilly Line as has been suggested, there would be no way the doors would fit the new S7 Stock of the District Line.

Swapping Ealing Broadway from the District to Piccadilly Lines would solve this problem and give more flexibility, but it might give London Underground other problems with regard to access for District Line trains to Ealing Common depot.

These pictures show Ealing Common station.

Note the difference in levels between the Piccadilly and District Line trains.

There would be no way to provide level access for both types of train using a Harrington Hump.

So is making a station that serves both deep-level and sub-surface lines, step-free, a problem that is still to be cracked?

This Google Map shows Ealing Common station.

It doesn’t look that it is a station, where two extra platforms could be squeezed in, so both lines could have their own platforms.

Could Ealing Common station be one of the main reasons to serve Ealing Broadway station with the Piccadilly Line?

Acton Town Station

These pictures show Acton Town station.

 

Note.

  1. The two central tracks appear to be Piccadilly Line trains only.
  2. The two outer tracks appear to be able to be used by both District and Piccadilly Line trains.
  3. There is quite a step-down to Piccadilly Line trains on some platforms.

Making Acton Town station, a Piccadilly Line-only station, would ease making the station step-free, as it would only be served by one type of train.

Chiswick Park And Ravenscourt Park

This section is shown in this map from cartmetro.com.

Note.

  1. The District Line is shown in green.
  2. The Piccadilly Line is shown in blue.
  3. The two Piccadilly Line tracks are in the middle and generally trains go straight through the four stations.
  4. The two District Line tracks are on the outside and trains stop at most stations.

It appears that the tracks have been laid out so that Piccadilly Line trains can get a real shift on between Acton Town and Hammersmith.

This could save a few minutes on some Piccadilly Line journeys.

But there is a problem!

  • District Line trains serve all stations.
  • Piccadilly Line trains serve none.
  • How is Chiswick Park station going to be served, as there are no District Line trains passing?
  • Passengers for intermediate stations, would need to get on the District Line trains before entering the Acton Town and Hammersmith section.
  • Passengers may want to change between Ealing Broadway and Chiswick Park.

There will  also be no trains running on the current District Line tracks between Acton Town and Turnham Green Junction. The only ones that do now, go to Ealing Broadway and they’re being changed to Piccadilly Line trains.

Serving Chiswick Park Station

Chiswick Park station only has platforms on the District Line, which will not see any passing trains if the District Line  doesn’t go to  Ealing Broadway.

One suggestion I found was to add two new District Line platforms to the Richmond branch.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the Richmond branch passing South of the station.

This second Google Map shows the tracks between Chiswick Park station and Turnham Green junction.

Note.

  1. The four tracks between Acton Town and Hammersmith stations.
  2. The current District Line tracks are the outside two of the four tracks.
  3. The Piccadilly Line tracks are the middle two.
  4. The two tracks at the South-West corner go to Richmond station.
  5. The Eastbound track from Richmond goes under the four-track railway, before joining the current Eastbound District Line track.
  6. The Westbound track to Richmond runs along the South side of the four-track railway, before joining the current Westbound District Line track.

These pictures were taken from a train approaching Chiswick Park station from the East.

Note, that there is enough space for a platform along the single track.

These pictures are of Chiswick Park station.

Note.

  1. The distinctive architecture of London Transport stations of the period.
  2. The two fast lines in the middle, with Piccadilly Line trains speeding through.
  3. The two District Line trains on the outside with platforms.
  4. The Richmond Branch passing to the South of the station and between the station and Sainsburys.

I would suspect that a pair of platforms could be built on the two tracks of the Richmond branch.

  • District Line trains to and from Richmond would stop at the new platforms at Chiswick Park stations and Turnham Green, Stamford Brook, Ravenscroft Park, Hammersmith, Baron’s Court and Earl’s Court stations.
  • Passengers between Ealing Broadway and Victoria stations would change at Hammersmith, Baron’s Court or Earl’s Court stations.
  • The car park at the bottom of the map is for a large Sainsbury’s. Perhaps, they would like a station entrance?
  • Chiswick Park station is Grade II Listed.

I’m sure that a good architect can find a more than acceptable solution.

Turnham Green Station

As I passed through Turnham Green station, I got off and took a few pictures, before catching the next train to Ealing Broadway.

Note.

  1. Piccadilly Line trains don’t generally stop, although they do at times to provide a service when the District Line is not running.
  2. The station is not step-free, with stairs to the entrance.
  3. It has some nice features.
  4. Herbs are provided for passengers

If required a step-free interchange between District and Piccadilly Lines could be arranged.

Hammersmith Station

I arrived at Hammersmith station on a Piccadilly Line train and left on a District Line train, after taking these pictures.

Note.

  1. The change is on the same island platform.
  2. There is plenty of space on the platform.
  3. The District Line trains are level with the platform.
  4. The Piccadilly Line trains require a step-down from the platform.
  5. The District Line trains run at a frequency of 12 tph.
  6. The Piccadilly Line trains run at a frequency of 21 tph.
  7. Hammersmith is also a big bus interchange and shopping centre.

There should be no problem changing between Piccadilly and District Lines at Hammersmith, with a wait of no more than five minutes.

Baron’s Court Station

In a brief stop at Baron’s Court station, I took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The change is on the same island platform.
  2. There is less space on the platform, than at Hammersmith station.
  3. The District Line trains are a step-up from the platform.
  4. The Piccadilly Line trains require a step-up from the platform.
  5. The District Line trains run at a frequency of 12 tph.
  6. The Piccadilly Line trains run at a frequency of 21 tph.

There should be no problem changing between Piccadilly and District Lines at Baron’s Court, with a wait of no more than five minutes.

Earl’s Court Station

I arrived at Earl’s Court station on a Piccadilly Line train and left on a District Line train, after taking these pictures.

Note.

  1. The change means that platforms have to be changed
  2. The District Line trains are a step-up from the platform.
  3. The Piccadilly Line trains require a step-up from the platform.
  4. The District Line trains run at a frequency of 12 tph.
  5. The Piccadilly Line trains run at a frequency of 21 tph.

There should be no problem changing between Piccadilly and District Lines at Earl’s Court, but Hammersmith and Baron’Court don’t need a change of platform.

What Is The Best Station To Change Between Piccadilly And District Lines?

It appears that the best place to change would be Hammersmith, or failing that Baron’s Court.

  • Earl’s Court requires a change of platform.
  • Turnham Green requires a change of platform and two sets of steps.
  • Hammersmith has a shopping centre and a lot of buses.
  • I’ve used Hammersmith before to get home from Heathrow, with a change to a 141 bus at Monument station.

I would always for preference use Hammersmith.

Conclusion

It appears to me, there are two opposite forces on either side of a possible proposal to serve Ealing Broadway station with the Piccadilly Line, rather than the District Line.

  1. The District Line will form a loop South of Crossrail between Ealing Broadway and Whitechapel stations.
  2. Making a station step-free that handles both deep-level and sub-surface lines, is not an easy undertaking.

Running the Piccadilly Line to Ealing Broadway means that a change is required at Hammersmith or Barons Court stations to use the loop described in point 1.

But this change would enable the step-free access to be created in all stations in the area.

I think that the change of terminus will go ahead, with the following additions.

  • Improved access to Ealing Common depot.
  • Improved cross-platform access at Hammersmith or Barons Court stations.
  • Possibly two extra platforms on the District Line at Chiswick Park station.

What started out as a simple change could end up as a substantial project.

But overall, because it sorts out step-free access in the area, I think it is a good proposal.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Minding The Gap – Barking Style

There are several ways of minding the gap between the train floor and the platform on railway systems.

  • There’s the simple get the geometry right method used on the Elizabeth Line, parts of the London Overground and some other routes.
  • There’s Stadler’s method where a gap filler comes out from the train.

But I’d never seen, this simplemethod that is used at Barking Riverside station on the London Overground.

Note the rubber strip, where all the doors on the train are by the platform.

This is a simple device and I’ve never seen it before.

But according to this article on Rail Technology Magazine, it has been in use on Heathrow Express for a year.

The devices are Australian and come from a company called Delkor Rail.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Using The Elizabeth Line Between London City And Heathrow Airports

Today, I went from London City Airport to Heathrow using the Docklands Light Railway, the underground section of the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.

London City Airport And Poplar Stations

I took these pictures on this section of the route using the Docklands Light Railway.

Note.

  1. I started my journey at 13:15.
  2. I arrived at Poplar at 13:27.
  3. The journey took twelve minutes, which agrees with the timetable.

This is a route, that gives a view of London’s rebuilding in the East.

Poplar And Canary Wharf Stations

I walked this section.

Note.

  1. I started my walk from Poplar station at 13:27.
  2. I was on the platform at Canary Wharf station at 13:39.
  3. I used a lift at Poplar station and the escalators at Canary Wharf station.
  4. The walk took twelve minutes, but it was a roundabout route.
  5. It looks like a level walkway is to be built between the two stations.

This Google Map shows the are between the two stations.

Note.

  1. Poplar station in the North-East of the map.
  2. The bridge at Poplar station, that provides the route I took over Aspen Way.
  3. After crossing the bridge and using the lift, I walked along the South side of Aspen Way.
  4. I then walked South down the path at the East side of the site, where it appears from the hoardings, flats will be built.
  5. Finally, I turned left to walk along the dock and then right to cross into Canary Wharf station.

Work appears to have started at Canary Wharf on the Southern end of an extended walkway, that will link to the bridge over Aspen Way.

This direct route could be nearly two hundred metres shorter and would shorten the connection by several minutes.

Canary Wharf And Paddington Stations

This section of the journey took nineteen minutes and I arrived at Paddington at 13:58, as this picture shows.

It had taken forty-three minutes between London City Airport and Paddington stations.

Paddington And Heathrow Airport By Heathrow Express

I took the 14:10 Heathrow Express to the Airport and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. It took about six minutes to walk between the Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express.
  2. This was my first ride on Heathrow Express, since the service has started using Class 387 trains.
  3. The trains are fine, but where are the tables, that I like so much in the other Class 387 trains?
  4. The train arrived at Heathrow Central at 14:29.

This meant my journey between the two airports had taken an hour and fourteen minutes.

Canary Wharf to Heathrow using Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line had taken thirty-four minutes.

Return To Paddington On The Elizabeth Line

I came back from Heathrow on an Elizabeth Line train, which took 29 minutes.

That would mean that today using the Elizabeth Line to Heathrow.

  • Heathrow and Canary Wharf will take 48 minutes.
  • Heathrow and London City Airport will take one hour and twenty-nine minutes.

The difference in time between the two trains is solely down to the times of the Heathrow Express and the Elizabeth Line trains between Paddington and Heathrow.

What Difference Will A Direct Elizabeth Line Connection Make?

Canary Wharf are giving a figure of thirty-nine minutes between Canary Wharf and Heathrow, when the Elizabeth Line fully opens.

This would appear to indicate that fully opening the Elizabeth Line connection at Paddington will save nine minutes and the Elizabeth Line will only be a few minutes slower than Heathrow Express, if you can cut out the change at Paddington.

This table compares times between Canary Wharf and Heathrow.

  • Elizabeth Line with a change at Paddington – 48 minutes
  • Elizabeth Line and Heathrow Express with a change at Paddington – 34 minutes
  • Elizabeth Line direct – 39 minutes

How many passengers will swap from Heathrow Express to a complete Elizabeth Line?

Is There Going To Be A Pedestrian Bridge Between Poplar And Canary Wharf Stations?

This Google Map shows the bridge that leads South from Canary Wharf station.

Note how the bridge could have been designed to go through the station to the housing to the North and perhaps ultimately to Poplar DLR station.

These pictures show the complete bridge on the South side and what could be the start of construction on the North side.

Note.

  1. This pictures were taken on two dates.
  2. A full bridge would connect the new housing to the shopping centre and the Jubilee Line station.
  3. Between Poplar and Canary Wharf stations would be around 120 metres.
  4. There would be a straight and level walking route between Poplar DLR station and the two Canary Wharf Jubilee and Elizabeth Line stations.
  5. A short branch would lead to Canary Wharf DLR station.
  6. Stairs would lead to the buses that run through Canary Wharf.

It does appear that the North and South bridges will form a continuous straight route.

The bridge would create a comprehensive transport interchange for East London.

 

 

 

 

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail Or Heathrow Express?

I have a friend, who lives in Walthamstow and used to fly out of Heathrow quite frequently.

He usually goes to Heathrow using Heathrow Express, but after looking up the times by using the Overground to Liverpool Street and then Crossrail direct to Heathrow, I suspect he’ll change his route.

Current Route

  • Walthamstow Central to Paddington – 24 mins by Underground
  • Paddington to Heathrow Central – 17 mins by Heathrow Express

Total – 41 mins – 2 changes

Crossrail Route

  • Walthamstow Central to Liverpool Street – 15 mins by Overground
  • Liverpool Street to Heathrow Central – 33 mins by Crossrail

Total – 48 mins – 1 change

It looks to me, that the Crossrail route has one less train change and less walking. And a cheaper ticket!

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large drop in passengers on Heathrow Express.

August 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Surrey Live.

Despite being reported on Surrey Live and the fact that Gatwick is in Sussex, the plan has been proposed by Kent County Council’s Rail Project Manager.

The plan would extend the existing Great Western railway line – which runs from Reading to Gatwick via Redhill – to mid and east Kent.

The article suggests the service could go between Reading and Canterbury West stations.

This table sums up the connectivity.

I have a few thoughts.

The Terminal Stations

The suitability of the two proposed terminals can be summed up.

  • Reading has been designed as a terminal station, with five bay platforms, three of which can be used by Gatwick services.
  • Canterbury West has not been designed as a terminal station and has no bay platforms.

Perhaps Ashford International station would be a better Eastern terminal?

  • It has Eurostar services.
  • Trains can terminate in Platform 1 and go to Tonbridge.
  • It has lots of car parking.

Dover Priority and Ramsgate could also be possibilities as they have terminal platforms.

Connecting At Gatwick Airport

It looks like a combined service might get complicated in the Redhill/Gatwick area.

  • Trains between Reading and Gatwick go via Redhill station, where they reverse.
  • There is no direct route between Tonbridge and Gatwick, so trains will probably have to reverse at Redhill, to go between Tonbridge and Gatwick.

Would a service between Reading and Ashford, that reversed twice at Redhill and once at Gatwick, be rather tricky to operate? Or even unpopular with passengers?

This Google Map shows Redhill station and the lines leading South from the station.

Note.

  • Redhill station at the top of the map.
  • The Brighton Main Line running North-South in the middle of the map.
  • The North Downs Line to Guildford and Reading curving West from the station.
  • The Redhill and Tonbridge Line to Tonbridge and Ashford leaving the map in the South-East corner.

I suspect that adding extra tracks in a very crowded area will be very difficult.

What Do The Timings Show?

A quick calculation, which is based on current timings, can give a journey time for between Ashford and Gatwick Airport.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Southeastern timing – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Southern timing – 35 minutes
  • Reverse at Redhill – GWR timing – 4 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – GWR timing – 8 minutes

This gives a total of eighty-five minutes.

  • Google says that you can drive it in sixty-three minutes.
  • If you took the train today, between Ashford International and Gatwick Airport stations, the fastest rail journey is around 110 minutes with a change at St. Pancras International.

It does look though that a faster train between Kent and Gatwick Airport could be competitive, as going via London certainly isn’t!

Could Simplification And Automation Provide A Solution?

Consider.

  • The Ashford International and Tonbridge timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • The Tonbridge and Redhill timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • How much time would be saved by only stopping at Tonbridge between Ashford International and Gatwick?
  • Could automation handle a fast reverse at Redhill, where passengers couldn’t board or leave the train?
  • Would a driver in each cab, allow the reverses to be done faster?

Trains going between Reading and Ashford International, would call at the following stations between Guildford and Tonbridge.

  • Dorking Deepdene
  • Reigate
  • Redhill
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Redhill – A quick Touch-And-Go.
  • Tonbridge
  • Paddock Wood

If two minutes a stop could be saved at each of the nine omitted stops and at each reverse, this would save twenty minutes East of Gatwick, which would give the following timings.

  • Gatwick and Tonbridge – 27 minutes
  • Gatwick and Ashford International – 65 minutes

Timings would be compatible with driving.

West of Gatwick, the service would be as the current GWR service.

  • After arriving at Gatwick from Ashford, the train would reverse.
  • En route it would reverse at Redhill, to continue to Reading.

Passengers wanting to go between say Tonbridge and Redhill, would use this reverse at Redhill to join and leave the train.

It would be an unusual way to operate a train service, but I feel it could be made to work, especially with the right automation and/or a second driver.

Trains For The Service

The service can be split into various legs between Ashford and Reading.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.

This route would surely be ideal for a battery electric train.

As both the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are run using Class 387 trains and the Stansted Express has used Class 379 trains for the last few years, similar trains to these might be an ideal choice, if they could be fitted with battery power and the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The facts seem to be on the side of this service.

  • There are spare Class 387 trains and some more will be released by c2c in the next few years.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing their Class 379 trains with new Class 745 trains.
  • A Class 379 train was used to test the concept of battery electric trains.
  • Both class of trains could be fitted with third-rail gear.

Either of these trains could be used for the service.

As they are 100 or 110 mph trains with good acceleration, they might even save a few minutes on the journey.

Infrastructure Changes

I suspect they could be minimal, once it was worked out how to handle the three reverses in the Gatwick and Redhill area.

Conclusion

I think it would be a feasible plan to run an Ashford and Reading service via Gatwick.

I would also decarbonise the route at the same time, as it must be one of the easiest routes in the country to run using battery electric trains.

  • There is electrification at both ends and in the middle.
  • The longest stretch of track without electrification is just seventeen miles.
  • All charging could be done using existing electrification.
  • There are platforms at both ends, where trains can get a full charge.
  • There are trains available, that are suitable for conversion to battery trains for the route.
  • No extra infrastructure would be needed.
  • Battery electric trains would allow extension of the route to Oxford in the West.

How many extra passengers would be persuaded to take the train to Gatwick, by the novelty of a battery electric Aurport Express?

Marketing men and women would love the last point!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are The Class 387 Trains For Heathrow Express Ready To Roll?

These pictures show the refurbished Class 387 trains, that will be used by Heathrow Express.

They will replace Class 332 trains.

Are they ready to roll? I hope they are not going to cover. what I think is an attractive livery, with hideous advertising!

 

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

ETCS Tested Successfully On Heathrow Express Class 387s

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

Once the Class 387 trains can use ETCS on Heathrow Express between Paddington and Heathrow, this must surely allow them to work more intensively with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are also fitted with the same ETCS signalling.

 

April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

When Crossrail Opens To Reading, Will Great Western Railway Have Too Many Class 387 Trains?

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of 45 Class 387 trains

Twelve trains are currently being converted to Heathrow Express duties.

But if Crossrail takes over services between London and Reading, then their main use wuill have disappeared.

As Reading to Oxford is not fully-electrified, they can’t be used on this route, but both Class 802 and Class 769 trains can.

There may be used for trains on routes like.

  • Reading and Didcot Parkway
  • Reading and Newbury

But there won’t be opportunities to use thirty-three trains.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 7 Comments